Football tips: Scotland set for struggle against Israel in Nations League decider

It could be double delight for Scotland in this international break.

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Scotland and Israel have been exceptionally even-matched in the four games they have played against each other in the past two years. Both sides have secured one victory and scored five goals, with their most important game – October’s Euro 2021 play-off semi-final – going to a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of tense and cagey football.

Both sides, however, face hugely contrasting prospects on the final day of their Nations League campaigns. Israel know that a win will secure their status in the second tier of the competition at the expense of Slovakia. Anything else will open the door for the Slovakians to overtake them.

Scotland, meanwhile, know that a win guarantees them promotion to the top tier, while any other result potentially exposes them to the Czech Republic, who lurk in second-place. In truth, Scotland could do without promotion. They will find themselves out of their depth against Europe’s elite and humiliating defeats in the next Nations League campaign will do them no good whatsoever, although they may benefit from a World Cup play-off spot if they finish top of their group.

Israel’s incentive to win – and avoid relegation in the process – is thus probably stronger, especially considering Scotland are probably still hungover following last Thursday’s win in Serbia. The two sides will probably cancel each other out yet again though.

Eran Zahavi Israel Scotland Nations League

Under 2.5 goals

Scotland have drastically improved their defence following a truly disastrous showing in last year’s European qualifiers, but it seems to have come at the expense of their attacking output.

The Scots have only managed to score more than one goal on one occasion this year (against a second-string Czech Republic squad) and they looked almost incapable of scoring against Israel in last month’s play-off.

Their defence has massively improved, however, and they managed three successive clean sheets in 2020 – something that is especially noteworthy considering they failed to keep a clean sheet against anyone who wasn’t San Marino for over two years.

It’s hard to see either side scoring more than once on Wednesday; Scotland haven’t managed that feat in their last five games, while Israel have managed it just once in their last eight competitive games. This should be a low-scoring affair.

Andrew Robertson Scotland Nations League

Eran Zahavi to score anytime

If Israel are to remain in the League B of the Nations League, they will owe an enormous debt of gratitude to PSV forward Eran Zahavi. The 33-year-old has bagged five goals in this current campaign – including one against Scotland on the opening day – and has won his country four of their five points so far.

His hat-trick in Bratislava is the reason why Israel sit above Slovakia in the table and he will be pivotal to his country’s hopes of surviving on Wednesday. Given Scotland’s lack of a prolific goalscorer, Zahavi is the most likely player by far to find the back of the net on Wednesday and represents good value at odds against.

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Israel v Scotland tips

Under 2.5 goals
Eran Zahavi to score anytime

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